Claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly dropped last week to a three-month low, a sign the U.S. labor market may be starting to mend.
Initial jobless claims decreased by 21,000 to 434,000 in the week ended Oct. 23, the lowest since early July when fewer auto plants than normal closed for retooling, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance dropped to a two-year low, while those getting extended payments also fell.
Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, is beginning to stir and may give employers reason to add workers ahead of the holiday shopping season. Fewer firings are an initial step toward more hiring as companies such as Ford Motor Co. see sales improve.